The Internet has just become much more accessible for UW-Madison patrons and visitors.
UW’s Student Information Technology Initiative is sponsoring new computers located throughout campus facilities that enable users to navigate websites and check web-based e-mail without going to a library computer lab, office or residence.
The university installed 18 new “communication kiosks” this summer in various buildings in an effort to supplement the computers that are already available in campus computer labs. With these new kiosks, a student dining in the Rathskeller needs only to take a short walk down the hallway to check their e-mail.
“Not everyone has a laptop and a wireless Internet connection,” said Kathi Dwelle, coordinator of Student Information Technology Initiative. “We wanted to provide some quick and easy Internet access locations for UW-Madison users and campus visitors.”
Kiosk users are allowed to navigate the Internet for personal or educational reasons, with some restrictions on inappropriate sites.
The kiosks are a mix of SunRay terminals, which are simply monitors and keyboard units connected to a server, and iMac computers. Each SunRay terminal costs approximately $1,500. The iMac terminals are slightly more expensive, approximately $2,500, due to the need for expensive security cabinets to safeguard the computers from theft and damages.
According to Dwelle, the pilot program launched this summer was successful.
“People are certainly noticing the kiosks and asking about them,” Dwelle said.
Kiosks are currently located at Memorial Union, Union South, the Red Gym, Southeast Recreational Facility (SERF), Shell, Natatorium, School of Music, Social Sciences, Bascom Hall and the McBurney Resource Center.
According to John Staley, the new media center program coordinator, many of the terminals are seeing fairly constant use, and additional terminals may be on the way. The university keeps statistics on the frequency of usage of the new kiosks and will use this to determine additional needs.
“Our intention is to expand the program as demand warrants,” Staley said. “We hope students will like [the kiosks], and if they do we’ll purchase more.”
Staley said additional stations at Memorial Union and Union South are likely. Each union currently has four kiosks.
Staley said the additions would likely be SunRays.
“The SunRays are less expensive and much easier to maintain than the iMacs,” Staley said.
Many students are excited about the new kiosks. UW senior Ben Durham is enthusiastic about the prospect of being able to access the Internet in Memorial Union.
“There have been a lot of times that I’ve been studying at the Union when I’ve needed to get some information from the Internet and I had to walk all the way to the library,” Durham said. “These kiosks have so much potential to make our lives easier and more productive.”
UW junior Jenna Blick agrees.
“Now I can check my email while I’m working out,” Blick said. “I can’t wait.”